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He also promised 6 a.m. practices, saying they free up most of the players’ days for attending class and getting treatment for injuries.

Haywood’s hiring did not immediately excite Pitt’s fan base or students. Radio talk shows and Pitt-related message boards were overwhelmed with calls and messages criticizing the hiring of a MAC coach, rather than one from a major school.

The negative reaction was similar to that when Pederson, then at Nebraska, fired Frank Solich after a 9-3 season and hired former Raiders coach Bill Callahan. Both Pederson and Callahan were fired there in 2007, and Pederson subsequently returned to Pitt.

Even a former Miami player, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, didn’t seem all that excited.

“He (Haywood) never reached out to me,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t really know him. I know what helped Miami, Ohio win this year, in my opinion, more than anything, is Brad Bates … what an awesome guy.”

Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who played for Haywood at LSU, said, “He’s a guy who can infuse a program with fire, a guy who can infuse a program with confidence.”

Haywood is a former Notre Dame cornerback, worked under Charlie Weis, Nick Saban and Mack Brown, among others. He was Weis’ offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, but lost his play-calling responsibilities in 2008.

Haywood’s offense is run-first and features considerable play-action looks in the passing game. Defensively, the idea is to stop the run first.

“We create mismatches, our best players against their worst players,” said Haywood, a tactic common at every level of football.

Before being hired by Miami, the 46-year-old Haywood was passed over for head coaching jobs at Houston, Minnesota and Washington.

Pederson said Haywood was one of five head coaches he interviewed, but was the only one who was brought to campus and offered the job. He estimated he spent 20 hours with Haywood before hiring him.

Haywood is the first black head coach in a major men’s sport at Pitt.

Haywood plans to interview all of Pitt’s assistants, although he said he likely would retain only one or two. Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. is seen as a future Division I head coach, but it is uncertain if he will stay on.